Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Black Eyed Peas and Ray LaMontagne

Tonight I made one of my appetizer specialties: black-eyed peas con queso. Or, more commonly known as black-eyed peas cheese dip. My sister is visiting from Chicago this week, and it is her favorite. She's already told me several times that she hates me because this dip is addicting. It's like Pringles. "Once you pop, you can't stop." And this evening, misery loves company because I was right there with her in the constant motion of moving the cheese dip covered Tostitos from the bowl to my mouth. It's a one-two step. Scoop and shovel. Scoop and shovel. Breathe...two, three, four...Scoop and shovel. We took our photo together at the table before things got messy and tummies were too full to muster up a smile for the camera.

Earlier this evening, my mom and dad treated us to dinner at Firebirds. Isn't it a special occasion when your parents still treat you to dinner? I'm a married woman, and I still get excited over a free meal. I ordered their garden salad, knowing that I was making this dip later. I also went light on dinner because I inhaled one of the best gyros in Memphis at Elliots for lunch. I would have taken a picture of that gyro, but I was with my boss for lunch and wasn't quite sure that whipping out the iPhone and taking photos of my food was appropriate. Next time. It will eventually find its way into this blog.

So, back to the black-eyed peas. Disclaimer: don't judge a dish by it's name. If you are not a fan of black- eyed peas, I would encourage you to try this recipe. Over the holidays last year, I made this appetizer several times, and people who admittedly dislike black-eyed peas loved it. I think it's because the beans do not dominate the flavors in this recipe. It adds texture and substance more than anything. The pepper jack cheese is the ringer.

Black-eyed peas have been a staple in southern cooking for centuries. As a southerner, we usually eat our black-eyed peas on New Years to bring us good luck and prosperity. Or you could just make this special con queso and eat it any time of the year you want! It refrigerates well and will last throughout the week when you want to feed the need for a quick snack.

This beat comes from Ray LaMontagne. He is an extremely talented singer songwriter, and I think he has such a great raspiness to his voice that brings out the soul in his music. I heard Ray LaMontagne's voice before I ever saw his picture; and for some reason I always envisioned him being a black guy. Maybe it's the raspy tone. But when I saw his photo, I was surprised to see a white boy. I think it's funny how your senses depict different things. Case in point, what you think someone looks like just by hearing their voice is different than what they actually look like. Or even what you think someone's voice would sound like, just by seeing them in person or in a photo, is different than what you expected when they speak.

Ray's voice is original, raw and full of soul. Much like these tasty black-eyed peas.

Back-Eyed Peas Con Queso

1/2 stick of butter
2 cloves of garlic, pressed
One medium onion, finely chopped
1 (16 oz) processed cheese spread - I use Velveeta Pepper Jack
2 (16 oz) cans of black-eyed peas, drained

In a dutch oven, melt the butter, onion and garlic. Saute until tender.
Add the cheese and cook over medium heat, stirring until melted.
Add the beans;reduce heat and simmer until dip is thoroughly heated. Stir occasionally.
Serve with tortilla chips.


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